The IRA announced the move in a letter sent to the weekly newspaper of Sinn Fein, the political party associated with the IRA.
Saying “in the past the IRA leadership has acted unilaterally to save and enhance the peace process,” the letter indicated that the group’s leadership had lost confidence in the process outlined in the Good Friday peace accord signed in 1998.
The letter said the suspension of ties with the so-called Independent International Commission on Decommissioning comes in response to the British government’s decision to suspend the Northern Ireland Assembly. The IRA note said Britain had reneged on the Good Friday accord by suspending the self-rule government.
“[T]he British Government, by its own admission, has not kept its commitments,” the letter signed P. O’Neill read in part. “The onus is on the British Government and others to create confidence in this process. They can do this by honoring their obligations.”
Despite the move to cut off communication with the disarmament commission, the IRA did reaffirm its support for a continued ceasefire.
“For our part, the IRA remains committed to the search for a just and lasting peace. The complete cessation of military operations announced in July 1997 remains intact,” the statement read.
The British government said it found the move regrettable, but not unexpected.
David Trimble, the head of the suspended Northern Ireland assembly and leader of the largest pro-British political party, blasted the move, saying the IRA was simply proving it never intended to disarm.
“It has been obvious for months that the IRA has not been making progress on decommissioning,” he told reporters. “This move further vindicates our decision to force the suspension of the institutions [the Assembly]. It underlines what the republican movement has to do.”
Trimble’s party, the Ulster Unionists, sparked the British move when they threatened to leave the assembly. The Unionists made the threat after reports emerged of spying by the IRA on members of the British government. A messenger in the Northern Ireland Office reportedly copied sensitive documents from British and Pro-British officials and gave them to a senior Sinn Fein member. When news of scandal broke, Trimble threatened to pull his party out of the power-sharing government unless the governments threw Sinn Fein out of the assembly.